1 Forest Walks
2 Bwindi Walking Safari
3 Cultural Walk
4 Batwa Cultural Experience
5 Bwindi Community Health Centre – Dr. Scott’s Clinic
6 Craft Shopping
Bwindi has more to offer then just gorilla tracking. Five different day-trails, ranging from 30 minutes to 8 hours in duration, offering the opportunity to enjoy the tranquillity of the forest and to see several different monkey species. For birders, roughly 190 bird species have been recorded in this area, ten of which are either listed in the Red Data Book or else endemic to the Albertine Rift.
The Muyanga River Trail
This trail lies outside the national park and so no guide is required. It takes roughly 30 minutes, starting at the end of Buhoma road, from where it follows the Bizenga River to its confluence with the Muyanga, before returning to Buhoma Road. Birding can be good in the early morning and late afternoon. This is a non-guided trail and is therefore free of charge.
The Waterfall Trail
is for best for primate species and general scenery. It takes about 3 hours and leads for 2km along an abandoned road before crossing the Muyanga River several times on the ascent to the 33m-high waterfall. Bathing is permitted at the bottom of the waterfall and often required after the relatively tough hiking.
Mazubijiro Loop Trail and Rushara Hill Trail, both take about 3 hours and offer good views across to the Virunga Mountains.
The Ivo River Walk
This walk is the longest, with duration of 8 hours. This walk leads to the Ivo River on the southern boundary of the park and offers good opportunity for seeing monkeys, duikers and large variety of birds.
Bwindi Walking Safari
Buhoma is on the Northern side of the rainforest and Nkuringo is on the Southern side, near the town of Kisoro. The drive between Buhoma and Nkuringo takes about 7—8 hours, depending on road and weather conditions, a more pleasant alternative to driving is hiking though the rainforest.
There are two walking trails between Buhoma and Nkuringo:
THE IVY RIVER TRAIL
This trail starts off with a 7km walk along a murram road with the rainforest on the right and the river on the left. Upon reaching the forest, the trail ascends and descends gently through beautiful areas of rainforest. A wide diversity of wildlife can be spotted during the walk, including monkeys, duikers, birds and many colourful butterflies. The Ivy River trail takes about 6.5 hours in total.
THE KASHASHA TRAIL
This is the most direct trail through the forest and is about 13km in length. The Kashasha trail begins at the Nkuringo Park Office before proceeding down a steep slope through community land to reach the park buffer zone. The route passes the junction of two rivers inside the forest where after a further 20 minute ascent the trail meets the alternative route, the Ivy River trail, inside the forest about 90 minutes from Buhoma. The Kashasha trail takes approximately 4-5 hours from Nkuringo to Buhoma and 6-7 hours from Buhoma to Nkuringo. The trail offers visitors a close up experience of the natural wonders within a rainforest environment, including a number of monkey species. Birds are prolific in Bwindi forest and your guide will points these out to you during your walk.
A chance to have a taste of the Ugandan lifestyle. You will meet with locals of many different generations and see the way of life in this developing country. One of the highlights of this cultural visit is a visit to a traditional healer or medicine man from the DRC. He will show how bananas are used for a children’s drink, to make beer and also the local spirit. You will also get the chance to interact with the local Batwa community, they will show you how they incorporate every day activities into dance.
Batwa Cultural Experience
This activity requires a free day in Bwindi. You will trek into the forest to a Batwa village and meet the community. Here you will learn about their life style, past and present. They will invite you into their homes and show you their traditional hunting techniques and craft making skills.
About the Batwa
Bwindi Forest is home to a fantastic diversity of flora and fauna, including some exotic plants and rare and endangered animals. The forest was also home to an the Batwa pygmies. These indigenous people were the original dwellers of the anicient forest and were known as the ‘keepers of the forest’. The Batwa lived in harmony with the forest and survived by hunting small game using bows and arrows and gathering plants for both food and medicinal purposes.
In 1992, the lives of the Batwa changed forever, when the forest became a national park and world heritage site in order to protect the endangered mountain gorillas that reside within its boundaries. The Batwa were evicted from the park and became conservation refugees in a world that was very unfamiliar to them. Their skills and means of subsistence were not useful in this modern environment and they began to suffer.
In 2001, when the Batwa tribe was on the edge of extinction American medical missionaries, Dr Scott and Carol Kellermanns came to their rescue. They purchased land and established programs to improve the conditions and lives of the Batwa. This included the building of a school, hospital and housing. The Kellermanns also developed water and sanitation projects and found ways that the Batwa could generate income and sustain themselves.
These projects are now managed and operated by the Batwa Development Program (BDP). BDP works closely with the Batwa community to try to ensure that their indigenous rights are respected and they also benefit from the forest being a national park and tourist attraction.
Batwa Cultural Experience
The Batwa cultural experience was created by the displaced Batwa pygmies to educate their children and to share their amazing heritage and traditions with the world.
A day spent with the Batwa gives you the opportunity to enjoy the following:
Hike in the forest with the people of the forest. You will have a Batwa guide and he will provide you with the chance
to see the forest and its habitats through their eyes.
See how they lived and hunted in the traditional manner. Enjoy trying out your hunting techniques as the Batwa teach
you how to shoot with a bow and arrow.
Visit a traditional Batwa homestead and learn from the women how to prepare, cook and serve a meal. You will also
have the opportunity it sample the dishes.
Talk to a medicine men and learn about the medicinal properties of the forest flora.
Hear ancient legends and traditional songs.
Bwindi Community Health Centre (BCHC)– Dr. Scott’s Clinic
Bwindi Community Health Centre or as it is affectionately know, Dr Scott’s Clinic, was started by US Missionaries Scott and Carol Kellermann in 2003. They came to Uganda with a mission to the Batwa Pygmies who had been evicted from Bwindi Impenetrable
Forest after it was gazetted as a National Park in 1991.
BCHC provides different levels of health care to different patients. People from the nearby parishes use the Health Center for everything: outpatients for all health problems,
delivery of babies, vaccinations, treatment of TB and when they become seriously ill and need admission to the wards. Sometimes very sick people are carried for miles on a stretcher by villagers.
People from further away use the Health Center for more complex problems, and will often go to their local Government Health Center first. Some of the local Government Health Centers struggle to get adequate supplies of drugs and others have staff that battle with difficult working conditions and low morale. BCHC has a reputation for high quality, and sometimes people travel for many days by foot to reach the Health Center. The x-ray and ultrasound machines are the only ones that are functioning for many hours drive in every direction.
Altogether BCHC is relied upon by more than 40,000 people in Kayonza and Mpungu sub counties of Kanungu District. It is especially important to the several hundred Batwa Pygmies who live nearby in poverty in settlements surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They get free health care, and are reached out to by Outreach projects.
Buhoma village has many craft shops and stalls that clients can visit. They are just a short walk away.
Please be expected to haggle as it is more or less customary in Uganda and can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.